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Fishing for Prayer

A daily prayer is answered unexpectedly.

A daily prayer, answered.

Every joint in my body ached.

My doctor had warned me that rheumatoid arthritis was a progressive, chronic disease. But even he was surprised at how bad mine had gotten in the few months since my diagnosis.

Before RA, I played racquetball three times a week, hiked every chance I got, loved nothing better than a spirited game of volleyball. Now approaching my fiftieth birthday, the pain made even a normal workday exhausting.

I switched on the TV. Two super athletic women whacked a tennis ball back and forth. That used to be me! I flipped the channel to a movie: A River Runs Through It. I’d never done any fishing myself, but the scenes of the two brothers in the beautiful outdoors tying flies and casting their lines into the water made me feel almost like I was back outside again. I was still thinking about it when I got into bed that night.

How often had I prayed to the Lord to take away my RA? What else could I possibly pray for? “Have mercy,” I whispered as I closed my eyes. “If I can’t be cured, help me find a way to live with this disease.”

Vaguely I became aware of something, something beyond the aching, beyond the longing for relief. A presence, a peace, as if Christ himself were with me. It grew until it was more vivid than the pain. I will give you the strength to endure, the presence said. I drifted off to sleep.

The following days were easier. When my birthday—the big 5-0—rolled around, I felt good enough to get together with a friend.

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“I got you something,” she said. “Don’t ask me why, because I have no idea, but I thought it was something you might enjoy.”

I unwrapped the box. It was full of fishing flies, like the ones in the movie. “I was thinking of taking up fishing,” I told my friend, staring at her gift in amazement.

Even though I now need to use a walking stick to steady myself as I wade out into the rushing water and cast my line, fly fishing has brought back all the joy of being physically active in the great outdoors.

I guess you could say I was caught by the greatest fisherman of all.

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